Every year Americans buy an average of 50 billion plastic bottles, which uses 17 million barrels of oil; enough energy to power 190,000 homes annually, and about $1 billion worth of recyclable practice. Sonoma State Associated Students has decided that it will no longer willingly contribute to this worldwide problem.
The Associated Students Senate is revisiting a bill which, if passed, would ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. Instead, students would have to fill up reusable water bottles at various filling stations on campus, the first of which can be found near the lobby of the Student Center. This one machine is already reported to have saved 1,800 bottles of water from being used as of November 2013.
The filling stations would be on every floor of the Student Center as well as in Charlie Browns Café. The stations would mean a new step in environmental awareness for Sonoma State; it also means a loss of profit for the school’s auxiliary, Sonoma State Enterprises, headed by Neil Markley.
At the meeting in November, at which the resolution was voted on and tabled, Markley met with Associated Students before they voted on tabling the resolution with a count of 10 “yeas” and zero “nays.” At the meeting Markley stated that the main problem his organization faces if the ban goes into effect is the nearly $80,000 in lost revenue once the water bottles are gone.
Markley claimed that the profits and loss of accessibility are not worth a complete and total ban of bottles, but rather a limit on the amount one may purchase, or perhaps just an education and grassroots effort to help students choose a more environmentally friendly water source.
Currently, the plan for water bottle filling stations would place them in one centralized area of campus, even though the vending machines, which currently serve students, are spread out for convenience. Students would continue to pay 10 cents for a cup of water at Enterprise-run locations. Another possible effect of the resolution is that students could face an increase in the cost of Pepsi products due to the removal of profits stemming from water sales.
“They say the lottery is the idiot tax,” said sophomore and geology major Thomas Ammon. “But I think there’s an additional idiot tax for bottled water.”
In the minutes for the Associated Students meeting regarding the writing of the water bottle ban, the reasons for implementing the ban included working towards making all future buildings environmentally friendly.
The ban of water bottles also meant that the Associated Students were laying down the building blocks for bans on things such as plastic bags, creating an on-campus farmers market, and creating a more attentive focus on sustainability throughout campus. However, the cost of such environmental efforts is high, and the return on investment is almost entirely of an environmental nature.
After the resolution was discussed, another resolution, the “growers grant,” was passed, which included a section on creating a farmers market on campus. The initiative was presented by the Senate, and was tabled in November to be rewritten and presented at another time when the financial and convenience problems are sorted.
However, Community Services Senator Libby Dippel was quoted as saying, “Just because the resolution could pass, doesn’t mean the ban will go into effect immediately.”
The ban will require a fair amount of time and manpower to bring to fruition, and when the ban will ultimately go into effect primarily depends on how quickly and efficiently Sonoma State can pull it off.